Residents flock to further reopening of recreation amenities

Peter Schreiber, of the Village of Largo, makes small adjustments to his gun before taking aim at his target Monday at Soaring Eagle Air Gun Range.

With more recreation amenities becoming available Monday, residents of The Villages marched ahead on their return to an active lifestyle.

The Villages Recreation and Parks reopened a slew of amenities, offering access to a new wave of activities — and facilities to enjoy them.

Just one week after the reopening of sports pools across the community, residents were treated to neighborhood pools opening up on Monday, as well as dog parks and select indoor and outdoor activities at regional recreation centers.

“It’s been really great to see everybody,” said Madison Taylor, recreation facilities manager at Rohan Recreation Center. “We’ve had so many residents that are thankful for what we’re doing and going slow into our process of reopening everything. We’ve seen a lot of familiar faces, so it’s been really nice just to see those residents that we’ve created relationships with and gotten to know.”

Indoor activities such as arts and crafts, billiards, darts, table shuffleboard and the use of recreation center lobby areas were made available once again for residents to enjoy. The reopened outdoor entities included archery, air gun, lawn bowling, croquet, shuffleboard, pétanque, corn toss, horseshoes, R/C boat and cars, bocce, basketball, outdoor exercise equipment and the Fenney Putt & Play.

“It’s so good to be back out here again,” said Richie Edwards, of the Village of Tall Trees, who took to the basketball court at Laurel Manor Recreation Center. “Just getting out of the house and being able to shoot some hoops again … I’ve been looking forward to this day for a while now.”

Debbi Kritsberg also was feeling good as she drew her bow again on Monday at the Dudley Archery Range.

“I just live two blocks away,” said the Village of DeSoto resident. “I come over, even if it’s just to shoot for half an hour, usually once a day … so as soon as this opened up, I’m here.”

Charlie Kelley, of the Village of Dunedin, spent part of his Monday morning using the outdoor fitness equipment at Rohan Recreation Center.

“Usually if the fitness center is open, I’ll use that,” he said. “This outdoor equipment is a close second best, I guess.”

As for the other half of his regular workout, he’s had to find other ways to stay active.

“We’ve been doing a lot of walking and biking to get the aerobic side of it.”

That’s the sort of ingenuity The Villages Recreation and Parks is encouraging from residents right now while things are still in transition.

“It’s going to take a little bit of creativity to be able to do whatever activities that you’re used to, even if you have to modify them a little bit,” Taylor said. “If you can’t do your water aerobics class, can you do some of the exercises that you learned in your water aerobics class on your own? Just be creative in how you want to do your activity based on what we’re offering at the time.”

On the front porch of Colony Cottage Recreation Center, Rose Sanborn was enjoying the reopening of recreation amenities by checking some email and host a video call with her daughter — all while utilizing the center’s on-site WiFi internet access.

“It’s almost like a little part of this is normal again,” Sanborn said. “I’m able to come back here, a place I really enjoy, and do some of the things like sitting with my tablet that I used to do.”

The recreation department continues its phased reopening efforts, while also encouraging those who want to take advantage to bring their own supplies. Such items include water, disinfecting wipes, a mask or face covering, and any or all equipment needed to participate in their desired event.

“We’re making sure that people keep their social distance of 6 feet and that we’re keeping things as low-touch as possible,” Taylor said.

And many residents at the facilities Monday were taking it upon themselves to implement their own additional safety measures.

“If it was busy, I don’t think I would be here,” said Sandy DeJesus, who enjoyed a game of shuffleboard with her husband, Vic, at Eisenhower Recreation Center.

The couple took precautions, as they brought masks and their own cues to play with. 

For those who don’t own their own equipment but still wish to utilize the facilities, The Villages Recreation and Parks is doing what it can to ensure residents will be able to do so as safely as possible.

“We do have sanitizing stations for all of the equipment once people check it out and bring it back,” Taylor said. “We have sanitizing stations to make sure that we’re doing our part.”​